As we enter the age of the Internet of Things, with connected devices popping up everywhere, it can be seductive to imagine that if we only had more 'smart' things around the home, our lives would be so much more efficient and greener, thanks to the power of automation and intelligent systems.
But as Lloyd likes to point out, some of these smart devices are actually just dumb responses to bad buildings (and bad design in general), and end up making us lazy and wasteful because they cause us "to use energy to do what used to be free". And I'd have to agree with that for the most part, but when it comes to water use, especially for lawns, gardens, and landscaping, I think that smart sprinkler controllers and intelligent irrigation systems can make a lot of sense, both in terms of conserving water and saving time in our daily lives.
I just recently covered the Edyn system, which uses a solar-powered sensor and controller to measure, track, and control irrigation systems in the yard and garden, but there's another smart sprinkler controller already on the market that looks to be a great alternative to the standard 'dumb' controllers used in many homes.
The Rachio Iro sprinkler controller not only allows for smarter irrigation scheduling (based on your local weather, your lawn and garden water requirements, and the current season), but that also connects via WiFi to an accompanying app for more granular control and the setting of precise parameters (such as the type of soil, the shade/sun cover of each zone, local watering restrictions, etc.) for the system.
"There are many variables that need to be considered when the controller is deciding when and how much water to let flow. Unfortunately, most of them don’t know anything about these outside factors.
So we made a controller that does. Our smart controller knows about weather and seasonality, and adjusts accordingly. It also learns from you as you teach it about unique characteristics in your yard and continues to tweak your schedule as it gets smarter." - Rachio
If you've ever been frustrated with the limitations of your home's sprinkler controller (or inherited one from a previous owner that is difficult to figure out or set up), the Iro might be a good option to consider. Installation of the device is said to be fairly simple to do (when replacing an existing controller), and the WiFi connected system allows you to use your smartphone or tablet to set up scheduling, to manually control watering of zones, or to get access to analytics about your water use to track your efforts to conserve water in the yard.
The basic Iro smart sprinkler controller ($249) can handle up to 8 zones, which is probably plenty for most small to medium yards, and the company also offers a 16 zone controller for about $50 more, for those with bigger landscapes or who want to be able to optimize their watering by setting up smaller or more precise irrigation zones. The product is already available through Home Depot, or can be pre-ordered for late June delivery through the company's website.